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 The Profit Prophet

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Anthony van

PostSubject: The Profit Prophet   Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:05 pm

Chapter 15


Dazzling light made it difficult to open his eyes. Daniel heard muttering and quiet voices above a very faint vibration that was more sensed than heard. Gradually he averted the direct light and looked to the side.

The first face he saw was Naomi. She smiled. Seeing her safe, he couldn’t help grinning back. The bruises on his face made him wince. She slipped her fingers between his and clasped his hand.

“Just take it easy,” she whispered. Her right hand caressed his face. “You’ve been bashed and battered a bit lately, haven’t you?”

His eyes moistened as he was moved by her tenderness. Naomi leaned over and kissed Daniel’s forehead.

His left hand curled around behind her head and brought her lips to his. The soft gentle contact was in contrast to the riot of emotions churning through him. Whether it was seeing her face, knowing she was safe, or the effects of their first kiss with shared intimacy, he didn’t know; but the emotion overflowed into words.

As their lips parted and he glimpsed the sparkle in Naomi’s eyes, he spoke, “I love you.” The words were throaty and faint. Naomi gave a contented smile and kissed him more firmly. He drank in the soft, musty perfume of soap and his curiosity was aroused.

They separated and he noticed she wore grey overalls with cuffs rolled up. Glancing around, he could see that he was in a bed in some sort of medical ward. His left arm had an intravenous drip attached. 

“Where are we?”

Just as he said it there was movement at the doorway and a medico walked in.

“Ah, Mr Treloar, you’re awake.” He turned to Naomi. “Excuse me Miss Stockdale. Let me see if we can check the patient.” Naomi moved away while the doctor peeled back the blanket on the opposite side of the bed and lifted the left side of Daniel’s hospital gown. He examined the bandage on his side but didn’t touch it.

“Daniel, isn’t it?” Daniel nodded in assent. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Riley, Chief Medical Officer aboard this ship. Daniel, you lost a fair amount of blood but there seems to be no organ damage. We gave you something to let you sleep a while so you’ve been aboard almost two days now. The wound should heal well. There’s no leakage, but try not to move it too much.”

He smiled a perfunctory smile and asked, “Any questions?”

Daniel shook his head, “No…and thank you doctor.”

“You’re welcome.” Riley turned, smiled a warm smile at Naomi. “He’s all yours,” he said and left.

Daniel looked at Naomi. He was completely mystified about his circumstances.

“What happened?”

She sat down next to his bed and took his hand and clasped it between both of hers.

“What do you remember and I’ll try and fill you in on the rest?”

His eyes wandered to the ceiling and his face was disfigured in a pained visage of concentration.

“Er, I remember Hissein and Abu and some of their Somali friends came in. They had guns. Um… there was shooting… no… I can’t remember what happened. Is that when I got shot?”

Naomi increased the pressure of her hands on his, and feelings of tenderness welled up within her. She recalled for him the crazy, heroic antics that had gotten him shot.

“Well, somehow you decided it was a good idea to trip up and jump on our German friend, who was holding a gun at the time. That’s how you got shot. But it gave Abu and Hissein enough time to grab them. Anyway, it wasn’t long after that that this ship; a US destroyer, came alongside and boarded.” She omitted telling him how she fought to staunch the flow of blood from his side.

She said the captain of the freighter thought he was being rescued from the pirates, but Devon had contacted the navy and told them what was happening. So the boarding party took Carl and Marty prisoner and the Somalis returned to their boat.”

“That was their boat?”

She nodded. “Apparently… Hissein said it was like old times. It seems our friends used to dabble in a bit of piracy. He said that in the last few years naval patrols, like this ship, have made it too dangerous. Hissein and Abu gave it up when they met your dad.”

Daniel smiled at the thought that he and Naomi had gone to save his dad and His dad’s friends ended up saving them.

“So we’re on a US navy ship?”

“Uh, huh; we’ll be stopping in Djibouti in a few hours.”

“That’s not that far from Berbera, so we’re almost back where we started. Are we allowed to go back to Hargeisia?”

“It seems we’re going straight back to the US. The captain told me that they were instructed to bring us back for our own safety.”

“What about my dad?”

“They think he’ll be safe now that our kidnappers have been caught.”

Daniel was impressed by how much information Naomi had.

“Boy, how come you know all this?”

She smiled sweetly. “I was invited to the captain’s table last night and he’s a very chatty man.”

Daniel nodded sagely. He could imagine the captain enjoying the company of a beautiful girl—a pleasant distraction from the drudge of his tour of duty.

He glanced around the room once more before looking at Naomi.

“Do you suppose they’ll let me get up?”

She gave a negative response straight away. “Uh, uh, no; the captain said they would transfer you on a stretcher to the US base at the airport and fly us out on a US plane.”

“They have a US base there?” He looked doubtful.

“Yep.” Naomi looked pleased that she had all the answers. “It’s a US naval base at the airport! I know; I thought it was weird too.” She added the last sentence in response to his puzzled expression.


It wasn’t too long, after small talk about feeling clean again and the thankfulness of not having to go around in her pyjamas, that meals were brought in for both of them.

“So, this is dinner I take it?” he asked Naomi as she steadied the tray while he tried to sit up. A grimace attested to the soreness of his wound.  

She ignored his query and cupped her hand against his cheek. “You really have been beaten up over the last few months haven’t you?”

He gave a wry grin, “It’s the rough company I keep; always getting me into trouble.”

“Yeah, right.” Naomi gave his nose a tweak.

“Ow!” he flinched and the sympathetic ache in the rest of his face contributed with the recoil.

“Oops, sorry,” purred his tormentor as she brushed the back of her hand on the undamaged cheek to soothe his feelings.

She saw his watery eyes and placed her face against his.

“I’m sorry Daniel. I really did hurt you didn’t I?” she whispered.

“It’s okay. I deserved it,” he said, mollified by her nearness.

The meal was interspersed with ‘what now’ wonderings and because of the interesting, diverse topics, they ate slowly. That suited Daniel, who had trouble making his jaw chew without twinges of pain. Questions were raised: what about their packs and Daniel’s computer? Would Naomi go back? How soon should they convene a Board of Trustees—something both of them thought essential considering the sum of money involved? And what were Daniel’s plans?

Most of the talk considered the possibilities and petered out before any firm resolutions were made.

When their plates were collected they were instructed to prepare for disembarking. This basically meant that Daniel should just lay there and Naomi went to her room and collected the rucksack that was provided for her. In it were a number of ‘necessities’ provided by female members of the crew and her laundered flannelette pyjamas.  

It wasn’t long before the ship berthed in the substantial docks of Djibouti Port. The city, though quite small by international standards, was larger than Berbera and far more modern than both Berbera and Hargeisia.

An ambulance from the naval base arrived and they soon had Daniel transferred to the vehicle. Naomi, by choice, rode in the back with him and an accompanying medic.

The navy man gave them a running commentary as they drove the approximate ten kilometres to the base. The ambulance followed Rue de Geneve past swimming pools and luxury hotels and then wound its way through the suburbs until they latched onto the main thoroughfare to the airport.

At the gate, the ambulance turned away from the international terminal entry and kept going around the airport. Daniel was wheeled on a gurney into the command centre, feeling particularly self-conscious of the stares from the service men. Inside, Naomi and Daniel were given coffees and made as comfortable as possible in a lounge area.  

A young man wearing a suit walked in. He had with him two backpacks and a computer bag.

“Good evening, my name is Ray Furlow. I’m with the state department. Devon O’Neill asked me to bring you these.”

Daniel grinned. “Ah, the man following us in Somali costume. Good to meet you Ray.” He struggled to rise on the stretcher to shake his hand.

“No, don’t get up.” Ray dropped the bags and moved swiftly to shake Daniel’s hand. “I hear you took a slug; very impressive.”

Daniel wasn’t sure what was impressive about being hit by a bullet, but he chose to not contest the assertion rather than score an intellectual or sarcastic point. This was in contrast to his usual pedantic responses.


“Well, hello.”

All three heads turned as one to see the Base Commander enter. After introducing himself as Commander Wallace and shaking their hands vigorously, he observed, “So you’re the couple we’ve mobilised half the base for. Welcome to our base.”

“Sorry for all the trouble we’ve caused,” Daniel offered apologetically.

“No, no, don’t get me wrong. We enjoy a bit of excitement occasionally; breaks the monotony.”

He diverted his attention to acknowledge Ray and then addressed Naomi and Daniel.

“I know it’s late but we’ve been instructed to deliver you stateside as soon as possible. We have a new P-8 Poseidon flying you out in about an hour. I don’t know why you’re so important, but we’ve never seen one of those aircraft out this way before, so we’ll make sure we look after you. Do you want something to eat?”

“No thanks,” replied Daniel.

“Thanks very much Commander, but we ate on the ship shortly before we were transferred,” Naomi elaborated politely.

The commander smiled at Naomi. “I’ll send in one of my men. Let him know if you need anything. We’ll move you into the plane in about forty minutes. You might want to use the facilities before you leave.” He indicated in the direction of the bathroom signs.

“Nice meeting you, Miss Stockdale isn’t it?” he shook her hand again as he looked at her appreciatively. “And Mr Treloar,” he shook Daniel’s hand. “You’re a lucky man.” He smiled and gave a wink and then marched off.

He was in a hurry. There was a new Poseidon to inspect.

Naomi had a speculative, open mouth, guarded, half smile as she witnessed Daniel’s Cheshire cat grin—a grin that was aimed at her and in response to the Commander’s comment.

“We’re a couple,” he submitted with mild celebration.

Naomi rolled her eyes.

A few minutes later a naval medical officer, introducing himself as Lieutenant Smith, joined them. He checked Daniel’s blood pressure and other vital signs before replacing the saline bag. He then examined the bandages over his wound, observing how lucky he had been. The bullet had passed through on his left side missing the colon and causing minor damage to femoral nerves. The entry and exit points were quite close given that the shot had almost missed. Daniel replied that he would have been luckier if it had missed.

Just before they moved off, Lieutenant Smith administered a pain killer via the drip, explaining that the movement would be very uncomfortable otherwise. When Daniel suggested that he had managed so far, the medic countered with a knowing smile, “It’s not your first dose Mr Treloar. Managing the pain is almost as important as making sure your wound is repaired and allowed to heal.”

When Daniel sought to thank him for his care he surprised both of them by announcing that he would be attending to him on the flight. The Lieutenant went on to say that medical supervision was normal when transporting gunshot victims but especially important this time because his assignment to Daniel had come straight from Washington.



The P-8 Poseidon had state of the art electronic detection systems and was also geared for anti-submarine warfare. The plane they were in had been diverted from a ‘shakedown’ flight, which was designed to familiarise its crew and iron out any bugs in equipment or performance.

Its pilot and crew acted a little overawed with their task of transporting Naomi and Daniel first to Germany and then to the States. This was due to a rumour that Daniel and Naomi were highly valued agents of the secret service—why else would they be diverted to Djibouti to pick up passengers? What added credence to the rumour, was seeing Daniel with a gunshot wound and being accompanied by a very attractive girl. It matched every spy movie ending they knew.

Commander Wallace did little to quash the rumour if, indeed, he didn’t believe it himself, because he sent two F-15s to escort the Poseidon as far as the Mediterranean. To have two fighters go to the limit of their range for anything but a high level, top secret mission was implausible to the airmen. So every effort was made to make the journey as relaxing as possible for their two passengers.

By the time the flight was approaching Suez, Daniel was dozing, mostly due to the mild sedative Smith had introduced into his system. Naomi was given the opportunity of watching the F-15s rock their wings as they turned back to base. Daniel partially opened his eyes to observe two of the crew entertaining Naomi with the sight of the fighters’ departure.

He was taken aback by the feelings of jealousy he had at seeing the airmen chatting with Naomi. They were obviously enamoured by the lovely girl surrounded by an air of mystery. It was evident in the way they were showing off and trying to impress her with their knowledge and banter.

Some four hours later Daniel’s moan drew Lieutenant Smith to his side. “Does it hurt?” he asked succinctly. It was an unnecessary enquiry as Daniel’s eyelids pressing tightly together said it eloquently.  Another syringe of morphine was inserted into the plug of the tube and then duly noted on his chart by the doctor. Naomi sat next to him and distracted him with reminiscences of their eventful history until the medication slowly alleviated his pain.

A voice from the cockpit informed them that they would be landing soon in Germany. Daniel was still firmly secured but the others had to strap in. It was a short refuelling stop so everyone remained on board or around the plane. The pilot arranged for replenishment of snacks and drinks and checked on his passengers.

Everyone, it seemed, wanted to chat to them but nothing pertinent to ‘the mission’ was mentioned. There was clearly a perceived aura about the intelligence community that had them guard their words. 

Dawn was just breaking when they set off once more. A short stop at Mildenhall in the UK was fuel insurance, as they anticipated headwinds that would make a direct flight from Germany ‘touch and go’.

Toward the end of the seven hour trip from England to Washington, Naomi was sound asleep in her seat. Daniel looked at her and mused about how his life had altered since the first time he had seen her at Aunt Marcie’s. It hadn’t taken long for him to become smitten by her.

She was understated, genuine and, the thing that surprised Daniel most was, there was a profound spiritual dimension to Naomi. It was this insightful aspect about her that had awakened his awareness of a spiritual reality. He had a new belief system. It provided not only a moral structure to the world, but also a divine purpose to the universe.



Daniel was delivered to a Washington hospital and a secret service agent escorted Naomi back to Boston. It took a while for Daniel to be transferred to Boston, so in the intervening time he contacted his father to bring him up to date on what had happened, and to let him know of his conversion.

He also continued to digest his reading of CS Lewis, recognising that the author himself claimed only his perspective of Christianity. This led Daniel to retrace his reading through John’s gospel and then study the book of Romans. He couldn’t help seeing some more parallels between the arguments constructed by St Paul and Lewis.

It was a week later that Daniel got a helicopter ambulance transport to Boston. His recovery had progressed sufficiently for doctors to sanction the move.

On arrival he had seen one of the attending physicians and had just settled into bed for a snooze when Gavin, Max and Erin paid him a visit. There were handshakes from the guys and a peck on the cheek from Erin.

Their first goal was to hear the ‘whole story’. What was the trip like? What was Somaliland like? How did he get shot? Daniel was quite vague about the whole kidnapping incident and details were scant. He explained that visiting his father had changed his life in a number of ways. Haltingly, he tried to express the hope that Somali refugees were given by people like his dad. And how he had a sort of awakening to what was really important in life. None of them really understood that he was talking about faith. The conversation got a bit awkward when he suggested that he might be devoting most of his time with the trust once it was set up.

As they fumbled around for things to say he asked about the company. According to Gavin not a lot had happened at Wafer Chip Research in the two weeks he had been away. Minor setbacks with substrates and loss of structure with carbon accretion had them considering some different strategies.

Max divulged that he had done a fair bit of sightseeing in California since the new owners of their proprietary licenced chip had shown considerable expertise in developing the existing process. It had become almost problem free and his consultations with them had been intermittent.  

Erin asked about Naomi and they all became mindful that his addled attempt to skim over her part in their adventure was caused by Daniel’s desire to conceal his strong feelings for the girl.  He couldn’t disguise his affection though, when Naomi also arrived for a visit.

“Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve already got visitors,” she said when she saw them all.

“No, it’s fine; come in… the more the merrier,” Daniel answered enthusiastically.

Naomi gave a short nod and mouthed ‘hello’ to Daniel’s colleagues and then went and hugged him, feeling three pairs of eyes drilling into the back of her head.

“It’s good to see you. How’ve you been feeling?” Her remarks sounded awkward and stilted because of the presence of people she didn’t know.

“Getting better every day,” he replied jovially.

There was a tongue-tied moment when Naomi laboured to construct her next question. Erin, seeing her distress, interceded. “Naomi, perhaps you can tell us a bit more about your trip. Daniel’s kept us in the dark about most of it. Oh by the way, this is Gavin, this is Max, and you probably don’t remember me.”

“Erin,” interrupted Naomi. She went on, “It’s good to meet Daniel’s friends. So what do you want to know?”

“What was Dubai like?” began Erin.

Soon they were all sitting around the bed as Naomi and Daniel related most of their misdirected rescue mission. They held their attention as they described the wealth of Dubai in contrast with the poverty of Somaliland. Information about the land his father worked in, the customs and the people they met, held Daniel’s colleagues spellbound.

As a group they seemed to bond as they laughed about Daniel’s paranoia and the comical agent tailing them.

The drama of the kidnapping, the fourth attempt and Naomi’s second incidence as a victim had them all dismayed that such things could happen. Because Daniel refused to speak of it, Naomi outlined how the shooting occurred and suggested that his action brought the whole episode to a close with minimum casualties. His slighted retort about being expendable brought a chorus of pity and a faux patronising caress on his cheek from Naomi.

The visit ended soon after with a nurse instructing them that they would need to leave so the patient could get his rest. It was a particular disappointment to Daniel who relished the escape from the boredom of his convalescence. Naomi accepted an invitation to join his workmates for dinner and added to his feeling of deprivation.

Not long after they left he was visited by two FBI agents. Daniel suspected collusion with the nurse, rather than coincidence, that they turned up so soon after the others had gone. After he inspected their IDs they confirmed, with an apology, that their request had terminated his friends’ visit.

They told him the meeting would be short and to the point. The investigation had garnered relatively little. Both sets of kidnappers, who were now in custody, had been organised by the same person; a man going by the name of Will. They didn’t know a surname. He was still at large.

Their questions began: Did he know of a person called Will who might be involved? No.

Had he met any of the kidnappers before? No, but he hadn’t really seen the first three groups.

Did he know what they were after? Yes, it wasn’t money it was secrets.

Why did they target Naomi? She is a close friend.

Could she have been involved? No.

Did he know anyone else who could be providing intelligence about him?

When this last question was asked it was clear to Daniel that the FBI suspected Naomi as a source and being implicated in some way.

“Why do you suspect Naomi?” he asked.

Agent Bennet, the shorter of the two responded. “All these events happened soon after you met Miss Stockdale. Although a victim of two kidnappings, she was unharmed in both.”

“Aren’t you forgetting that she was responsible for the capture of the first kidnappers? And what motive would she possibly have? She turned her back on a rich inheritance, so it can’t be money.”

The other agent justified their approach. “At the moment we suspect everyone connected with you. Is there anyone else who could be informing on you?”

Daniel smiled, “As a matter of fact, I have my suspicions about the law firm Haversack and Neesham. Not only were they nearby on the first two attempts, I believe they have been keeping a file on me.”

“Keeping a file on someone is not a crime, Mr Treloar.”

“Maybe not, but aiding and abetting a crime by the provision of personal details probably is.”

“Do you have any evidence of that?” asked Bennet

“Let’s say, I have my sources.”

“You realise that investigating a law firm is not an easy thing for us to do; not without some hard evidence.”

Daniel sat back on his bed and took a deep breath. A heavy weariness had overtaken him. He had been occupied with visitors all afternoon and, added to the morning helicopter flight, his limited stamina had departed.

“We should go,” stated the other agent.

In reply Daniel raised his head. “Can I suggest a hypothetical to you?”

“Go ahead,” answered Bennet.

“If I gave you a memory stick with details of surveillance of myself, and correspondence soliciting details about my movements and people close to me; would that be sufficient to launch an investigation?”


“That may be enough to begin a covert investigation and maybe monitoring communications. We’d have to talk to our boss, but we’ve used less.”

“You would have to accept my word that it came from a computer at the law office.”

They nodded.

“Another thing; the source would have to remain anonymous.” His stipulations were sounding less and less hypothetical as he went.

The two agents looked at each other. That would make their task more difficult.

“It’s still a possibility,” declared Bennet.

Daniel studied them thoughtfully. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you whether it’s hypothetical or not.”

They weren’t pleased but they understood this was about sharing confidences and some permission was being sought. The agents excused themselves with a commitment to return early the next day. Both were already planning research about the intended subjects for their scrutiny.

Soon after they left, Daniel made a call to Naomi. She was at a nearby restaurant with Erin, Gavin and Max and having a good time. He explained to her his FBI encounter and requested she contact Stacey to get her permission to pass on the memory stick. Daniel stressed that it would be anonymous but he knew that little deduction would be necessary to determine who the likely source was. He emphasised that Stacey should feel no obligation to agree to hand over the data.

Naomi answered that she understood and would get back to him when she could. Before ending the call she passed on that Erin said he should be asleep, and then he heard the two girls giggle.

About two hours later Daniel was awoken by a persistent annoying sound. It took a minute for him to identify the sound as his ring tone. His phone showed three missed calls; all were from Naomi.

He shook himself awake before calling.

“Hi,ee” came her sing-song adaptation of the greeting.
“Hi Naomi, are you still at dinner?”

“No, I got home about half an hour ago.”

“What did you find out?”

“Stacey said to go for it. She hadn’t realised the file was so damning.”

“So, I’ll hand over the memory stick tomorrow.” Daniel outlined what he would do just to confirm there was no misunderstanding.

Naomi sounded cheery. “That’s right. Stacey said if someone accuses her, she can always remind them that police attended a suspected break in.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that. Maybe the FBI will get all the evidence they need through their investigation.”

There was a brief lull in the call and then Naomi spoke, “Anyway, I’m sorry I’m still keeping you awake. I’ll let you go to sleep. Catch you soon.”

Daniel wanted to declare his love to Naomi afresh, then and there, but he feared sounding maudlin. “Naomi,” he began strongly.


“Er, thanks for the visit today. I really appreciated it.” Even that sounded corny to Daniel.

“My pleasure…goodnight Daniel.”



Agent Bennet and his partner, whom he called Mick, were true to their word and intruded Daniel’s breakfasting before eight the next morning. It took a moment’s rifling through his computer bag before he located the USB stick. With minimal fuss they accepted the data and left.
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